Online education is not just a way to earn a degree from wherever you are; for most people, it’s a second chance at education. It allows them to learn while they earn, a benefit that is immensely advantageous because they don’t have to take time off from their profession and risk financial losses and because they can set schedules that are flexible and conducive to both work and study. But if they are to realize the maximum benefit from online education, professionals must take care in selecting the degree that’s right for them and their lifestyle. If not, it’s time, money and effort thrown down the drain.
So as a professional, how do you go about selecting the right online degree? Before you make your decision, ask yourself the following questions:
- Will it help me further my career? Most people go back to school because they realize the value of a degree in the workplace. A few do it because they feel a sense of accomplishment, but most do it because they want to use it as a rung to climb up the career ladder. Promotions, salary hikes, designation improvements – they’re all based not just on your commitment to your work, but also your level of education and your experience. So whether you’re looking for an internal promotion or a career change, you need to know what degree to pursue to help your cause. Most people prefer an MBA if they’re doing anything related to business - the EMBA option is popular with working professionals as it is designed around their schedule (most classes are on weekends). But in general, it’s best to choose a degree with a major that’s in line with your profession, either the one you’re in or the one you plan to move to.
- Does it suit my schedule? It’s not as easy as it sounds, balancing work, education, and your personal life. So choose your degree with care, taking into account your class and exam schedules. Ensure that they don’t clash with important events at work and if they’re flexible enough to fit around your work schedule. If you’re really busy at work, you can’t afford to sign up for a degree where your schedule is rigid and you’re forced to attend class even though you’re swamped with work.
- Will I be able to do justice to the course? When you commit to an education, whether it is online or not, you must give it your best shot. It’s just like any business endeavor or work project where you’re naturally going to put your best foot forward and go all out to ensure success. So enroll yourself only if you’re certain you’re going to be able to do justice to the world of academia rather than treating it like something to do when there is nothing else to do.
- Can I afford it? While this is not going to be much of a problem for a working professional as for a high school graduate, some courses like the EMBA which are tailored for high level executives are pretty expensive. So if you have to foot the bill for your degree because your employer is not keen on sponsoring you, ensure that you’ve weighed the pros and cons of spending good money on a degree which may or may not reap the rewards you seek.